On classic travel guide websites such as TripAdvisor and Google Reviews, Tunis appears to be a place with a pretty nonexistent food and nightlife scene for young people. In fact, here is a reference that I found when I Googled searched “nightlife in Tunis”:
While Tunisian culture has always emphasized a slower-paced “cafe culture” that combines the relaxed attitudes of the Mediterranean and Arab worlds, this narrow view of the Tunisian entertainment scene couldn’t be further from the truth. Moving away from the traditional shisha and tea cafes that cater primarily to men, Tunisia’s young people, having grown up in the shadow of a revolution and possessing a vasty more western perspective on the world than the generations before them, are radically redefining the Tunisian entertainment scene.
In Tunis, this up-and-coming scene is almost entirely dominated by teenagers and young adults. Young people, preferring pizza to pine nuts and martinis to mint tea, are flocking to the European restaurants, bars, and cafes that are opening up on a weekly basis.
However, while this scene is booming, knowledge of it exists only on a very local level. Only limited references to the most trendy establishments exist online, and many of the city’s best bars and restaurants don’t even have a website or Facebook page.
Luckily, I was able to meet some of the most amazing friends in Tunisia whom I can honestly say made my experience 1,000,000 times better. Without them, I would have never discovered the scene that defined my time in Tunisia and leaves me constantly aching to return. I truly fell in love with Tunisia in a way that I have never fallen in love with a place before, and it’s a love that I cannot wait to share with others.
Firstly, it’s important to note the structure of the city and its cultural layout. Tunis is a city that consists of multiple districts. The main district, or downtown Tunis, is quite traditional and conservative. It consists of the old medina as well as many office buildings and government administrations. Downtown Tunis is cool to see, but it is definantely not my favorite part of the city.
Instead, about 17 kilometers away from downtown are the coastal districts of Gammarth, La Marsa, Carthage, and Sidi Bou Said. Commonly referred to as “suburbs”, these sea-side districts are the hub of Tunis’s contemporary scene. Not only modern and chic, they are also jaw-dropingly beautiful. With La Marsa’s expansive beach, Carthage’s Phoenician ruins, Gammarth’s winding seaside roads, and Sidi Bou Said’s pristine white and blue architecture, these are the neighborhoods that you will never want to leave.
It costs about 9-15 TND ($3-$5) to take a taxi from La Marsa to the city center.
While the beauty is easy to find, the best places to wine, dine, and relax with a cup of coffee can be a little bit more elusive. Without ado, here are some of my favorite cafes, restaurants, and bars in Tunis:
The Best Cafes
To start, Northshore is my all-time favorite cafe in Tunis, if not the world. Home to hipster baristas, great food, and an amazing beach-front location, there really is nothing to dislike about this amazing sandwich and coffee joint.
Even more amazing are the prices. Their delicious chicken sandwich with fries rings up at about $3 USD.
Price Range: $ ($3-$5 for a sandwich, $1.5-$3 for a drink)
Location: Right on the beach at La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: The chicken or beef sandwich, the black coffee, the peach iced tea, or the hot snickers (world’s best hot chocolate)
Best for: coffee or a chill lunch with friends, doing online/school work
A sister to Northshore, this brand new, neon-themed cafe is located away from the beach in Marsa Ville. While they didn’t yet serve food while I was there, I know that there were plans to improve the menu in the future.
What really sets Fool’s Place Apart is the fact that it is open 24 hours, so it’s perfect for a late-night meeting or chill out!
Price Range: $ ($1.5-3 for drink)
Location: Marsa Ville (it’s a bit hidden-follow Google maps and look up; it’s on the second floor)
Suggested Dishes: The hot snickers or hot Nutella, the smoothies, the coffee
Best for: late night meet-ups, working online/ on schoolwork
If there was a heaven for Instagram hipsters, it would probably be Ivy. Decorated with dreamy pink and green vibes and serving up all sorts of trendy dishes like smoothie and poke bowls, this small cafe serves up great food (along with free mint detox water) in an incredibly aesthetically pleasing environment.
Price Range: $$ ($6-10 per meal)
Location: A block from the beach at Marsa Plage
Suggested Dishes: The Shakshuka for brunch, the fresh yogurt and granola, the Thai rice bowl
Best for: lunch with friends
Serving up great ice cream, food, and coffee, this Tunisian chain cafe is a great place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. The ambiance is nice, and they have a pretty good European-style food and dessert menu.
Unlike many of the other cafes mentioned, it also opens early for breakfast.
Price Range: $ (about $6 for a meal)
Location: Sidi Bou Said, Across from the mosque
Suggested Dishes: The caramel macchiato, the chicken burger, the breakfasts, their homemade ice cream
Best for: lunch or breakfast with friends, school/online work
Cafe des Délices
This cafe differs from most of the cafes on the list as it’s not new, trendy, or hip. Instead, it’s a mostly tourist-oriented cafe, but the view makes it a 100% must-see in Tunis.
Come, spend an hour or so talking and enjoying mint tea while looking at what may possibly be one of the most beautiful views in the world.
Price Range: $ (the mint tea is $2)
Location: On the hill while walking up to the top of Sidi Bou Said
Suggested Dishes: I would only recommend the mint tea with pine nuts
Best for: the view and the relaxed atmosphere
The Best Restaurants
I never expected to find incredible, authentic Japanese cuisine in Tunis, yet Bistro Nippon surprised me in every way. Located in a small, fairly unimpressive building, this family-run restaurant only seats about 20 people per night and is owned by Japanese immigrants.
Unlike other Japanese restaurants in the city, they don’t service sushi but instead focus on other Japanese dishes, such as ramen, udon, okanimiyaki, and more.
Price Range: $$ (about $10 per dish)
Location: La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: Almost everything on the menu. One special star is the sakura tea. Flavored with cheery blossoms, it is hands-down the most sensual and fragrant tea I have ever tried.
Best for: dinner
Not many places can execute two completely different cuisines, but somehow Sakura manages to do both sushi and Italian. While I have never tried the sushi, I do highly recommend the Italian dishes at this small, mid-range restaurant.
Price Range: $ (set lunch menu for $6-$7)
Location: La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: The PPP (Penne, Poulet, Pane) with pepper flakes and a mint lemonade is my one and only go to order here! It is ahhhmazing!
Best for: lunch, early dinner (can be difficult to get a seat at peak hours)
This artisan restaurant/ cafe is often overshadowed by it’s neighbor, the chain Boulangerie Paul. However, Sabato outshines any chain restaurant by miles.
Serving unique drinks and healthy soups, sandwiches, and salads, this restaurant sets itself apart by offering a 100% homemade menu. This means that everything, from the mayo and the ketchup to the salad dressings, is made in-house.
Overall, it has a much better European vibe than Paul and serves great food and cool drinks!
Price Range: $$
Location: La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: The salads and the not-too-sweet iced tea
Best for: lunch date with friends
Au Bon Vieux Temps
This hidden Italian restaurant is well established in the La Marsa community. Frequented by adults and young people alike, the changing menu, fresh ingredients, nice atmosphere, and authentic Italian cooking keep people coming back for more.
Price Range: $$/ $$$ (about $15 per meal)
Location: La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: The pasta, you can always ask the staff for suggestions
Best for: lunch or dinner
This small, yet very high quality restaurant does meat, and it does it well. Its steaks and burgers are very popular, but for me, its risotto is really what shines through.
Price Range: $$$ ( $15-$30 per meal)
Location: La Marsa
Suggested Dishes: The meat, the risotto
Best for: dinner
Is this restaurant a bit pricey compared to some of the lower-price places I’ve reviewed ? Yes.
Is it also literally located on a cliff that looks over the most perfect blue sea? Yes
Is it worth it? For sure
Price Range: $$$ ( Food starts around $15)
Location: La Marsa/ Sidi Bou Said
Wolf and Rabbit
Wolf and Rabbit is one of the few restaurants that I explored outside of the suburb areas, and it showed me that I defiantly should explore more of the city-center area when I return this summer.
For starters, this was one of the best brunches that I have ever had at undoubtably the best price.
For just 24 TND (about $8-$9), my friend Chaima and I ordered the set brunch menu for two (it really should have been for 4 because there was NO way that two people could finish this!
In this menu, it came with: coffee, fresh squeezed juice, water, fruit salad, homemade yogurt with Tunisian honey, bread with Nutella and jam, a cheese and meat platter, the fluffiest homemade pancakes with Nutella, croissants, AND eggs Benedict! It was truly one of the most indulgent and best priced meals I’ve ever had, and I can’t recommend visiting the residential area of Menzah just for this exact brunch!
Price Range: $ (Is it even legal to sell this much food for $4 a person?)
Location: El Menzah (near the city center)
Suggested Dishes: The set brunch, the pancakes (still dreaming about them to be honest)
Best for: BRUNCH BRUNCH BRUNCH!
Tunis has a lot of pizza. One of my personal favorites is Pizza Pirate, a small, low-cost pizza restaurant right next to Marsa Plage. It’s open late night, so it’s perfect for a late-night stop on the way home from a night out, and you might even meet an adorable street cat that will cuddle with you while you wait for your freshly baked pie.
Price Range: $
Location: Marsa Plage
Suggested Dishes: Pizza
Best for: After-party food
And lastly… an embarrassing guilty pleasure:
While in the US and other European countries, KFC is cheap, everyday junk food, KFC is a little bit bigger of a deal (and a lot better quality) in Tunisia.
When a country has low prices and a low cost of living, fast-food chains that charge western prices have a slightly different reputation. It’s not so much considered cheap fast food as it is a decent family restaurant and a popular chain.
Personally, my friends and I ate a KFC quite a bit. Because it’s more expensive in relation to other fast-food (about $5 for a combo meal), it’s quality is quite a bit higher and so is the overall class of the restaurant. It’s also open late (1am), it’s in a super-central location, and the Zinger Sandwich combo meal tastes pretty darn delicious.
The Best Bars and Nightclubs
If there is anywhere in Tunis that is a time-honored icon, it’s probably Hotel Plaza Corniche. While the hotel and the restaurant leave a bit to be desired, the atmosphere here is unbeatable. With many different, beautifully decorated areas, good prices, and great staff, it’s the perfect place to share a bottle of wine (or 3) with friends.
It’s a rule magical place that may just keep you coming back (like three times per week).
Location: A five minute walk from the public plage (beach) at La Marsa
Best for: Wine with friends (a bottle costs around 40 TND – about $13)
Yuka, Habibi, Jobi, Chez Mon Ex, and Solar
All existing within one complex, these clubs are the best place for spontaneous nights of dancing and drinks. The way they are set up is especially awesome because you can hop from one club to another, each playing different music and hosting a different crowd, without having to go through separate bouncers.
Additionally, they don’t require table reservation or bottle purchases, and drinks are well-priced by the individual drink. The bartenders (especially at Yuka) are awesome, and the vibe is absolutely fabulous!
Location: Gammarth (your best bet is to take an OTO or Bolt, Tunisia’s form of Uber and Taxify, respectively to get there, as they are more likely to know exactly how to get there)
Best for: Clubbing without the hassle or price of booking a table
NOTE: in the summer, Chez Mon Ex and Yuka are the perfect place to day drink, chill at the pool, and enjoy the breeze from the beach
Le Carpe Diem
The only club located centrally in La Marsa, this club can get a bit crowded on the weekends. It may be best to call ahead and reserve a space or else arrive early, as they are known to refuse people once the club fills to capacity.
Location: La Marsa
Best for: Mid-range clubbing in an easy-to-get to location with a VIP option if desired.
Sindbad Resto-Lounge is one of the fancier clubs in Tunis, and it can come with a fairly hefty price tag. That being said, it is still a really fun place with really good music. It usually requires a table reservation, and bottles of liquor start around $100. It’s best to try to get a table on a weeknight during the holiday period, as prices will be lower but the crowd will still be a lot of fun.
Best for: Fancy Clubbing, it’s best to book a table and a bottle or two with a group of 10-15 friends.
Tangerine Rooftop Bar
Not a club but more of a chill bar, this rooftop bar has great summer vibes and is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the great ambience.
Best for: Chill drinks in a great, summery atmosphere
Baboca Beach Bar
THE BEST place for drinks on the beach. Grab an ice cold beer and relax on the seaside.
Best for: Beach drinks and the ultimate daytime chillout
Overall, I hope that the entertainment scene in Tunis supposes you like it did me! It really is one of the most youth-friendly and up-and-coming places that I have ever seen. I truly cannot wait to return and see even more amazing new cafes, restaurants, and bars!
Have you ever been to Tunis? Do you have any suggestions for awesome dining and nightlife establishments? If so, comment below!